I must make it absolutely clear that I am not passing judgment, and I am not seeking explanations or justifications. I am not interested in whether the Rashidun military offensives were right or wrong. I am interested in whether these accounts align with Muslim historical scholarship, or if perhaps they are considered exaggerations, or perhaps even malicious lies.

Here is a small sample of the military actions I'm referring to:

  • At the battle of Dhu'l-Kassa, Abu Bakr pursued the retreating Bedouin, inflicting "great slaughter" on them.
  • After his return to Medina, Abu Bakr published a summons to all the apostate tribes, warning them that if they did not repent, their fighting men would be cut to pieces and their women & children taken captive.
  • After the battle of Al-Buzakha, Abu Bakr issued a general amnesty, except for those who had killed Muslims during the battle; these were executed, in whatever manner they had killed their victims. This was in fulfillment of a vow he had made at the battle of Rabadha.
  • At Yemama, the Muslims forced their way into the walled garden of the Beni Hanifa and killed everyone, thousands of them.
  • At 'Ain-at Tamr, Khalid Ibn al-Walid, the Sword of God, had every man in the garrison beheaded, and the women & children given to the Muslim soldiers.
  • At the battle of Hadramaut, the approaches to the city were filled with the bodies of the dead. Abu Bakr ordered that the fighters be given no quarter. The Muslims killed all the men and took all the women captive.

This is a small but representative sample of the accounts of warfare under Abu Bakr. The offensives and punishments under Omar are described similarly. I must restate: I am not judging, and I am not asking why they did these things, whether it was justified, or whether it was right or wrong.

What I would like to know is how well such accounts align with Muslim historical scholarship. Because this is StackExchange, I'm not asking for community opinions. I'm asking about scholarly opinions. References to English-language books would be much appreciated, or English translations of Arabic-language books.

  • To answer your question we need first to know the source of those examples, I see in some examples wrong information and want to know if they are only mistranslated or invented by the author.
    – M.M
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 19:57
  • 1
    My question is whether those accounts align with Muslim historical scholarship. Whether they align or not has nothing to do with the source. Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 23:19
  • I bet, you won't be receiving any answer @GreatBigBore. Because this is just the thing, that people used to turn their back to, and ignore it after saying it,wrong information.
    – Seeker
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 4:28

1 Answer 1


This took a lot of research and reading about the incidents you mentioned, but it is very difficult to know exactly which part of an event you are referring to with only the information you have provided. I could not find any of the events you are referring to in the manner you mentioned in books that are accepted by Muslims as references.

I will give an example to demonstrate what I mean: You mentioned the amnesty at the end of the battle of Buzakha (Arabic: بزاخة), so this was somewhat easier to find as you are referring to what happened at the end of this battle. In Sahih Al-Bukhari, one of the most trusted references for Muslims:

حَدَّثَنَا مُسَدَّدٌ، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى، عَنْ سُفْيَانَ، حَدَّثَنِي قَيْسُ بْنُ مُسْلِمٍ، عَنْ طَارِقِ بْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ لِوَفْدِ بُزَاخَةَ تَتْبَعُونَ أَذْنَابَ الإِبِلِ حَتَّى يُرِيَ اللَّهُ خَلِيفَةَ نَبِيِّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ أَمْرًا يَعْذِرُونَكُمْ بِهِ‏.‏

Narrated Tariq bin Shihab: Abu Bakr said to the delegate of Buzakha. "Follow the tails of the camels till Allah shows the Caliph (successor) of His Prophet and Al-Muhajirin (emigrants) something because of which you may excuse yourselves."

Sahih Al-Bukhari 93/81

The story behind this can be found in more details in other books, e.g., Al-Musannaf by Ibn Abi Shaybah (Arabic: المصنف لابن أبي شيبة), Al-Sunan Al-Kubra by Al-Bayhaqi (Arabic: السنن الكبرى للبيهقي), I'laam Al-Muwaqqi'in 'An Rabb Al-'Alamin by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (Arabic: إعلام الموقعين عن رب العالمين), and others. In summary, I am quoting from Al-Amwal by Ibn Zangawaih (Arabic: الأموال لابن زنجويه):

قدم وفد بزاخة من أسد وغطفان على أبي بكر يسألونه الصلح، فخيرهم أبو بكر بين الحرب المجلية والسلم المخزية، فقالوا له: هذه الحرب المجلية قد عرفناها، فما السلم المخزية؟

A delegation from Buzakha — from Asad and Ghatafan — went to Abi Bakr requesting a truce, so Abu Bakr gave them one of two options: gleaning war [expression to mean war continues till one side gains everything from their opponent], or humiliating peace. They said: This is the gleaning war and we know what it is. What is the humiliating peace?

فقال: أن تنزع منكم الحلقة والكراع، وتتركون أقواما تتبعون أذناب الإبل حتى يري الله خليفة نبيه والمهاجرين أمرا يعذرونكم به، ونغنم ما أصبنا منكم، وتردون إلينا ما أصبتم منا، وتدون قتلانا، ويكون قتلاكم في النار

Abu Bakr said: "We take away from you the ring and the support [expression to mean your arms (ring) and your horses (support)], and you abandon people that follow camels' tails [expression to mean show your regret and repentance] until Allah shows the successor of his Prophet (ﷺ) [Abu Bakr] and the emigrants [the other Muslim rulers under Abu Bakr] your excuse. We will keep our war bounty from you, and you return your war bounty to us. You pay diyah (expiation, see link) for our deceased, and your deceased will be in hellfire [that is, Abu Bakr and his followers would not pay diyah to Bani Asad or Bani Ghatafan]."

فقام عمر، فقال: إنك رأيت رأيا وسنشير عليك، أما ما رأيت أن تنزع منهم الحلقة والكراع، فنعم ما رأيت، وأما ما ذكرت أن يتركوا أقواما يتبعون أذناب الإبل، حتى يري الله خليفة نبيه والمهاجرين أمرا يعذرونهم عليه، فنعم ما رأيت، وأما ما ذكرت أن نغنم ما أصبنا منهم، ويردوا إلينا ما أصابوا منا، فنعم ما رأيت

'Umar stood up and said [addressing Aba Bakr]: "You have voiced your opinion, and we will advise you. You said that we take away their ring and their support, and what you have said is the best. You said they should abandon people that follow camels' tails until Allah shows the successor of his Prophet (ﷺ) and the emigrants their excuse, and what you have said is the best. You said we should keep our war bounty, and they return to us their war bounty, and what you have said is the best."

وأما ما رأيت أن يدوا قتلانا ويكون قتلاهم في النار، فإن قتلانا قتلوا على أمر الله، أجورهم على الله، ليست لهم ديات

"But what you have said that they pay diyah for our dead people and their dead people will be in hellfire, [I say] our dead people were killed for a matter of Allah, their reward is on Allah, and they have no diyah."

قال: فتابع القوم قول عمر

The narrator said: They followed the advise of 'Umar

(Ref: Al-Amwal, Abu Ahmad Hamid ibn Makhald ibn Qutaiba ibn 'Abdullah, 1st ed. Saudi Arabia: King Faisal Center for Research Islamic Studies, 1986, Part 2, p. 460, Q. 742).

— NOTE: My own translation, so treat with care.

Al-Amwal Scan

So I find it hard to figure out what the source of Abi Bakr executing those who had killed Muslims during the battle of Buzakha in fulfillment of a vow he had made at the battle of Al-Rabadha (Arabic: الربذة) is. Unless, if you are referring to Abu Bakr's oath after the battle of Dhil-Kassa (Arabic: ذي القصة), then he vowed to take no prisoners and to execute every one captured, except those who return to Islam. Afterwards, however, the tribes from Al-Rabadha went to Abi Bakr and declared their return to Islam, and I am not aware of a battle that actually took place in Al-Rabadha itself prior to the battle of Buzakha.

NOTE — I understand that this is not exactly an answer, but it is not possible to fit this in a comment. If you give more details about each specific incident you are interested in, each incident in a separate question, then it may be possible to figure out which part of an event you are referring to, and a better answer may be attained.

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